China's Song

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Song Jiaoren, Premier-designate of China (1913)

If any country had bad luck in the 20th century, China would be the first to claim that title. Constant revolutions, counterrevolutions, genocides, famines, and autocratic regimes plagued China for most of the 20th century, however all of this can be traced back to one year: 1912.

The Xinhai Revolution effectively ended the declining Manchurian Qing Dynasty after the abdication of child-Emperor Puyi in early 1912. This not only ended Qing rule, but two millennia of monarchist rule in China. A new republic, led by Sun Yat-sen, was established, but out of fear of a lengthy civil war, he made a deal with General Yuan Shikai, a Qing loyalist, to cede him the Presidency of China in exchange for the Emperor's abdication. Yuan Shikai, however, was a total opposite of the revolutionary and liberal Sun Yat-sen, and began to solidify his grip on power, beginning with a rebuttal from the National Assembly elections. The Nationalist Party (Kuomingtang), led by Song Jiaoren in the National Assembly, emerged as the most outspoken opponents of Yuan Shikai's presidency. Song, after his party won China's first democratic elections, became Premier-designate and made it known that he would be challenging the president's autocratic approach to government. However, Song Jiaoren never lived to become Premier of China. On March 20, 1913, Song Jiaoren was murdered by an assassin at a railway station in Shanghai on orders from Yuan Shikai. The assassination of the Premier-designate led to the breakdown of China's nascent political climate and enabled Yuan Shikai to become an absolutist President-turned-Emperor.

But, what if the assassination of Song Jiaoren had been foiled? What if it exposed Yuan Shikai's open corruption and malice to all of China? What if we had heard China's Song?

Point of Divergence

On March 20, 1913, a nearby policeman notices a man carrying a handgun approaching Song Jiaoren. The officer shouts and wrestles the would-be assassin, Wu Shiying. Wu would be promptly arrested and held in jail. Under interrogation, Wu reveals he was contracted by underworld leader Ying Guixin. In a fiery speech to the National Assembly, Song speaks on his assassination attempt and attacks Yuan Shikai as the cause for political violence. After weeks of back and forth between the president and the assembly, as well as circulations of rumors that Yuan himself ordered the assassination attempt, Yuan ordered the army to occupy and dissolve the Nationalist-led government.